Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’
Pumpkin Soup

a cozy little dinner

As part of my newfound commitment to oil-free living, I whipped up a delicious pumpkin soup the other day. Lately I’ve been all about the pumpkin, and maybe it’s because Trader Joes is helpfully stocking piles and piles of it in every aisle (except for 2 Saturdays ago when the TJs on Pico was sold out of every seasonal item, lame). Having already conquered the pumpkin pie and wrestled with pumpkin muffins(amazing), I had to come up with a way to enjoy my new favorite flavor at dinnertime. While one option was having pancakes for dinner, I decided to go in another direction with this pumpkin soup. I served it with whole wheat toast, which was perfect for dipping, and pumpkin butter, which has replaced regular butter in our house.

It was delicious at dinner, but I will admit that it didn’t taste quite the same the next day at lunch. Part of this may be psychological. Since it’s very difficult to find McDougall-approved food out in the wild, I have been following a pattern of cooking one night and bringing in leftovers the next day for lunch. It works, but it’s been getting a little predictable. I’m going to start popping over to Mrs. Winston’s every few days to mix things up a bit. I’m curious if anyone has any good oil-free lunch ideas, maybe something I can just toss into my lunch tote in the morning without cooking? That would be a godsend.

Mama Mia! Garlic Knots!

Apologies for being so bad about posting lately. Work has been ridiculous and between there and the gym, I haven’t had a spare moment to write anything lately. I’ve been super low on energy and not really prioritizing my cooking or blogging as much as I wish I could. Rest assured, I’ve still been eating very healthy and very vegan. I even tried out a couple of new recipes which I was very pleased with. I’ll be posting them here over the next couple of days so that you too can try them out.

One of my most favorite places in the world is C&O’s Trattoria in Venice Beach. Not only do they serve the most amazing, gigantic plates of pasta I’ve ever seen, but they have a very great hook as well. Three words. Unlimited garlic knots. You just sit down and order an entree, and the garlic knot guy will come to your table time and time again, filling your plate with delicious garlic knots that are warm out of the oven. I’m pretty sure that their garlic knots are vegan, because most pizza dough usually is, but I really should call to do some investigating. If the opportunity arises to visit there in the next 40 days, I will have to call them and find out if their delicious garlic-y goodness fits in line with my new lifestyle choices. If they tell me that they aren’t vegan, however, it might be a real deal-breaker. It’s debatable whether it would ruin my relationship with veganism or my relationship with C&O’s.

Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. Our motto was to always be prepared. Thus, if C&O’s doesn’t come through for me, I have an excellent backup plan. That backup plan is my very delicious, previously top-secret recipe for garlic knots. It’s super easy to make, but they always seem to really impress people. When I made a tray on New Years Eve, they were a big hit. Luckily, they’re one of those things that are just naturally vegan. You could, I suppose, screw everything up by adding parmesan or romano cheese. If you really feel like you need that extra garnish, you should go ahead and pick up some vegan parmesan from your local Whole Foods. It’s just as good.

Without further adieu, here is a totally simple, totally awesome garlic knot recipe. You could serve these as an accompaniment to a pasta dish, as an appetizer, or as part of a cocktail party spread. If you were feeling particularly lazy, you could probably put these out with some tomato sauce for dipping and call it a meal.

Garlic Knots
1 package vegan pizza dough (I just buy it in the bag from Trader Joe’s, but you could make it as well)
6! cloves of garlic
1/2  c. earth balance
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Turn your pizza dough onto a floured surface. Knead it a few times before rolling it out to a rectangle about 1/4″ thick and 5″ long.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips that are about 1″ wide.
Tie each individual strip into a knot and place on a nonstick baking sheet.
Brush tops with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until tops of the knots are a golden brown.
While these are done cooking, sauté minced garlic in 1 tbsp. olive oil until it starts to turn golden.
Add the earth balance to the sauce pan and stir until completely melted.
Transfer the still-warm garlic knots to a bowl and toss with the garlic-butter mixture.
Chop the fresh basil and sprinkle over your garlic knots with a pinch of salt (kosher is best).

Simply Salad

I don’t think that any culinary repertoire is ever complete without one good salad recipe. Salad is very ubiquitous in a vegan diet. A double helping can serve as a light lunch, or you can pair it with some vegan soup. Whenever I cook dinner for someone, I like to start out with a salad. It’s simple to make ahead of time, so if I’m still working in the kitchen when they arrive, they don’t have to just stare at me ravenously. Sometimes I’ll even have a small salad in the middle of the afternoon to tide me over until dinner time. This is a simple recipe with a sweet home-made balsamic vinaigrette. 

Simple Spinach Salad
  • 1/2 a bag baby spinach
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries (I like the orange-flavored ones)
  • handful of almonds


  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • dash of garlic powder
  • fresh ground black pepper

  1. Whisk together the vinegar, agave, garlic, and black pepper.
  2. Throw your spinach in a large bowl. 
  3. Pour the dressing over the spinach and toss a few times to coat. 
  4. Sprinkle cranberries and almonds on top and serve to everyone’s sheer amazement. 

Vegan Potstickers

 I was left with some bok choy from the farmers market (where it is super cheap by the way, so don’t get lured in by the expensive stuff in the produce section of the grocery store. I bought 3 heads of baby boy choy for like a dollar). Bok choy is one of those vegetables that I didn’t know existed until very recently. I read about it in Skinny Bitch, but what really sold me on the whole idea was a list of super foods that I saw hanging in the Whole Foods elevator one day. It listed out foods along with their nutrient score. Since you are wondering, Dr Joel Fuhrman is credited with calculating the nutrient score for different foods. Nutrient density is based on vitamins and minerals in a food and ranks them on a scale of 1 to 1,000. Bok Choy scores a whoping 824. Soda scores a 1. Any questions?
This got me to thinking that someone really should team up with some sort of health food company or government organization to build out a video game where kids learn about nutrient density by scoring points for collecting certain foods. It could be just like pac man, but where they have to avoid the cans of soda and chomp up all of the boy choy, kale, and collared greens they can get their little pac-mouths around. If any of you develop such an idea, just remember that I have it timestamped here, so you might as well save us a costly litigation and cut me in on royalties from the get-go.
So I had all this bok choy, and didn’t feel like another stir fry. I wanted something….sassier. I really love potstickers. I actually love just about any bite-sized food. New Years eve is my favorite holiday as far as food is concerned, because everything fits so nicely on a cocktail napkin. So, I threw some stuff together to resemble a filling and work it out. The one issue with this recipe is that it made about twice as many potstickers as I wanted, but some friends were happy to take them off of my hands.

Vegan Potstickers
yields 31 potstickers at 32 calories each

  • 1/2 lb. tofu, rinsed, drained, dried, cubed, then mashed
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 1/2 c. chopped bok choy
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pot sticker wrappers (check the label to ensure vegan goodness)
  1. Take a block of tofu and run it underneath some cool water, then place it in between two paper towels and squeeze it to remove excess moisture. Cut it into 1/2″ cubes and then mash it with a fork. It doesn’t have to be super smooth.
  2. Shred carrots, chop bok choy, and mince garlic.
  3. Coat a pan with cooking spray and add garlic. Sautee for 1 minute before adding vegetables. Cook for about 3 minutes and remove from heat. 
  4. Combine vegetable mixture, tofu, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. 
  5. Place 1 tsp. of the filling in the middle of each potsticker wrapper
  6. Moisten the sides of the wrapper and seal shut
  7. Spray a frying pan with nonstick cooking spray and arrange potstickers in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat until thy are golden brown. Flip and repeat. 
  8. Add 1/2 c. of water, cover, and steam for 1 minute. Take off the cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed.